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JewsOnFirst Reports on The Response

Our eyewitness report on Texas Governor Rick Perry's fundamentalist Christian revival meeting

Special to JewsOnFirst.org, August 11, 2011

Blatant and repeated calls for Jews to accept Jesus punctuated Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Response revival meeting this past weekend. Indeed, last Saturday’s replay of the historic Christian preoccupation with the redemption of the world through Jewish conversion was in many respects a microcosm of what the event was about -- the coming together of different traditions to submit to Jesus, in an attempt to redeem not only the United States, but the world, through Jesus. As event MCs Luis Cataldo told us on numerous occasions – the Response was historic because it drew together people from different denominations and theologies for one purpose: Jesus.

The spirit of the event can be summed up by one participant who told me how happy she was to see so many young people in Houston’s Reliant Stadium: "Maybe it's indoctrination...and I'm sure it is. But it's the right indoctrination."

Joshua's and Perry's sevens
In Chapter 6 of the Book of Joshua, God calls upon Joshua to gather seven priests, supported by a large army, to march around the walls of Jericho with the Ark of the Covenant for seven days. On the seventh day, the priests and their army blew shofars (ram’s horns), knocked down the city's walls, took the city for God, and laid waste to all those inside in the city not devoted to the Lord.

On August 6, 2011, Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas and imminently announcing Republican Presidential nominee, gathered together seven "Honorary Co-Chairs," and an army of 30,000 spiritual warriors (with room to spare in the 70,000-seat venue) for the Lord in a Houston football stadium. For seven hours, those in attendance prayed, fasted (or were at least encouraged to, although food was on sale in the stadium), and called on Jesus to restore the nation to its Godly heritage and ensure its citizens were devoted to the Lord.

It might seem like a stretch to juxtapose Perry's rally with the taking of Jericho in the Book of Joshua, but the two share a similar typology that is based on systematic prayer followed by the claiming of a territory for the Lord. For Perry and his spiritual warriors, that means taking back the nation for Jesus.

Shofars on the Jewish Sabbath
On the day, shofars were blown outside the stadium (despite the prohibition of their use on the Sabbath), while participants wearing t-shirts with slogans such as "In my nation: That's where GOD belongs," "Soldiers for Christ," and "Bible-thumpin', gun-totin' Texan," poured into the stands. The atmosphere was not unlike a worship service at any non-denominational megachurch: rock music played; people jumped up and down at the front of the stage with their hands lifted in the air towards God, fell on their knees and prostrated in tears, spoke in tongues, and lifted up the name of Jesus in the hope of restoring the nation to its rightful place, once again, as a shining city upon a hill and a light unto the nations.

Yet unlike Joshua's priests and prayer warriors who took Jericho immediately after they shouted out to the Lord on the seventh day, at the end of their seventh hour of prayer and fasting, Perry and his prayer-ers, could only ask for revival in the nation, and had to repent for their own sins plus the sins of the nation before it can restored to God.

The rally, initiated by Perry last December, has been mired in controversy ever since he announced it. This was in part due to its association with controversial speakers and groups – the list of endorsers was actually removed from main page of the website for about a week in July, however it reappeared shortly after the press began commenting on its disappearance. Other concerns, of course related to issues of Perry's official endorsement of the event, with its blurring of the lines between church and state.

American Family Association Contributed $1 million
The event itself was funded through private donations and the American Family Association (AFA). The AFA, which runs a network of 200 radio stations – and which has been labeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Centre for its anti-gay statements – contributed an estimated $1 million towards the cost of the rally. In addition to its views on gay rights, the AFA has been actively opposed to the construction of any more mosques in the US, as well as suggesting that a law be passed making the Christian Bible the only book that can be used in the swearing in of public officials (regardless of their faith). It seems that freedom of religion is not on the top of their list of things to protect.

Other divisive figures included John Hagee, pastor at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas and founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), (Our report on CUFI's last Washington Summit can be found here. here.) Nationally, Hagee is perhaps most well known for his endorsement of John McCain in the 2008 Presidential election. Although McCain initially accepted the endorsement, after videos surfaced of Hagee's negative views of Catholics and a theodicy that stipulated God's use of Hitler to force Jews to return to Israel in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ, McCain quickly renounced Hagee’s endorsement.

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